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Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap and Whitney hero Frosted will look add yet another feather in his cap as he maps out his road to the Breeders’ Cup this fall, heading a field of nine in the Grade 1, $600,000 Woodward on Saturday at Saratoga Race Course.
Speed: #4 Bradester, #6 Samraat
Stalkers: #1 Shaman Ghost, #2 Breaking Lucky, #3 Frosted, #9 Mubtaahij
Closers: #5 Catholic Cowboy, #7 Tale of Verve, #8 Tapin Mojo
The key here is Frosted who last time out decided he wanted to win wire to wire…and just totally took control of the race. He’s capable of the same thing here, but you would think he’d sit off the lead a little bit with fast horses Bradester and Samraat entered. Either way I think the fractions will be fast, but who can close well enough to catch the speedsters? Not sure anyone can.
Top Pick: #3 Frosted
What more can I say about Frosted that hasn’t already been said? He’s been awesome since returning from Dubai, and is thriving at Saratoga so there is no reason why he won’t show up and run a big one once again. His Met Mile performance two races back was insane, but I felt like his Whitney performance was pretty amazing too as he just totally took control of the race and dominated the competition. With a win he will become one of the few horses ever to win the Met Mile, Whitney, and Woodward Stakes in the same year. He’ll be a single for me.
Horses to Use in Multi Race Wagers: NONE
Frosted is a logical single in my mind as it will take something strange happening for him not to get the job done.
Exotic Plays: #4 Bradester and #9 Mubtaahij
Comes in riding a three race winning streak, and is probably running better than he ever has before. Two races back he took home the Grade 1 Stephen Foster Handicap at Churchill Downs going wire to wire, and I’m thinking that will be his best chance here today. He certainly is the best horse in the race outside of Frosted. Mubtaahij is a horse I’ve never cared for and have called him overrated, but I do think he is a good hit the board candidate here. Would be very surprised if he won though.
Party Crashers: #6 Samraat
Put things together (finally) last time out when he finished a very close second to Effinex in the Suburban Handicap. He’s still searching for his first win since the Gotham Stakes in 2014, but if Frosted doesn’t run well here then it’s conceivable that Samraat can beat anyone else in the race. If he’s a decent price and you like playing longshots…he makes the most sense.
Throw Outs: #2 Breaking Lucky, #1 Shaman Ghost, #5 Catholic Cowboy, #7 Tale of Verve, and #8 Tapin Mojo
None of these can match up with Frosted or Bradester except for maybe Shaman Ghost but I think he’s better going longer. The rest of them will have a lot of catching up to do, including recent winner Tale of Verve. Have to prefer others more than these from a class standpoint.
Trained by Kiaran McLaughlin, the 4-year-old son of Tapit has enjoyed a sensational summer in New York since returning from a spring campaign in Dubai. The always-formidable Frosted flew to the top of his class in his stateside return with a record-setting, 14 ¼-length victory in the Met Mile at Belmont Park in June. He came back to wire his competition in the Whitney four weeks ago, coasting to a two-length victory after firing through sharp early fractions on August 6 at the Spa.
“Frosted’s doing great since his last race, we’re looking forward to Saturday,” said McLaughlin, who trains the gray colt for Godolphin Racing. “His last race wasn’t a ‘wow’ off-the-charts race on numbers and things, so we thought we could run back in four weeks.”
McLaughlin noted that Frosted, already armed with automatic berths into both the Breeders’ Cup Classic and the Dirt Mile, was put under consideration for the Woodward in part due to the added flexibility it offers for the colt’s schedule ahead of the year-end championships November 5-6 at Santa Anita.
“The thinking is that it’s 60 days to the Breeders’ Cup,” he said. “That’s not to say we won’t run back in the Jockey Club Gold Cup. If he’s tearing the barn down like he has been, we might do both. But Sheik Mohammed is involved with the decision-making, so I don’t know. Right now, we’re giving ourselves a good chance to get 60 days to the Breeders’ Cup.”
McLaughlin said that in addition to the Grade 1, $1 million Jockey Club Gold Cup Invitational on October 8 at Belmont, Frosted will likely be nominated to the Grade 2, $350,000 Kelso Handicap at one mile, also on October 8, as well as the Grade 1 Awesome Again on October 1 at Santa Anita Park as the colt’s connections weigh his Breeders’ Cup assignment.
“We’ll have all of our options open,” said McLaughlin. “He can do anything. He’s a straightforward as they come.”
Frosted will again be in the hands of jockey Joel Rosario, who has been aboard the colt since his win in the 2014 Wood Memorial. The pair will break from post 3.
McLaughlin will also be represented by Mubtaahij, making his first start since turning in a game third in the Grade 2 Suburban Handicap under Irad Ortiz, Jr. on July 9 at Belmont. Runner-up in the Dubai World Cup before transferring to McLaughlin barn, the 4-year-old Irish-bred colt by Dubawi won the Group 2 UAE Derby as a sophomore, earning a spot on the Triple Crown trail to finish eighth in the Kentucky Derby and fourth in the Belmont in 2015.
“I think he has improved since the Suburban,” McLaughlin said of Mubtaahij. “Since being here, he’s been doing really well. Irad feels like he knows him better now after riding him last time, [that he] learned a little something about him, so we’ll see how it goes. We think he’s going to run big.”
Ortiz has the return call aboard Mubtaahij, who will depart from the outside post.
Expected to attract support as well are Grade 1 Stephen Foster victor Bradester, currently boasting a three-race win streak for Joseph W. Sutton and trainer Eddie Kenneally; My Meadowview Farm’s Suburban runner-up Samraat from the Rick Violette, Jr. barn; and 2015 Grade 1 Preakness runner-up Tale of Verve, who is exiting an impressive allowance win on July 23 for owner-breeder Charles Fipke and trainer Dallas Stewart.
Rounding out the field for the Woodward are Grade 2 Brooklyn winner Shaman Ghost, fifth in the Suburban last time out for Stronach Stables and trainer Jimmy Jerkens; Gunpowder Farms’ Breaking Lucky, winner of the Grade 3 Seagram Cup at Woodbine on August 1, from the barn of Reade Baker; Florida-bred stakes winner Catholic Cowboy representing Mossarosa and Hall of Fame trainer Nick Zito; and Naipaul Chatterpaul trainee Tapin Mojo.
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